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FM Auction Bid Appeal Denied

Commission says five broadcast groups owe a total of more than $2 million

The FCC really, really wants its money in a case involving five broadcast groups.

Cumulus Media, Connoisseur Media, College Creek Broadcasting, Nassau Broadcasting and New Hampshire station owner Barry Lunderville all bid on FMs in Auction 37 in 2004 and Auction 62 in 2006. But they withdrew their bids for various reasons.

The agency’s rules require a bidder that withdraws a provisionally winning bid to pay the difference between the withdrawn bid and the subsequent winning bid if the subsequent bid is less money than the original withdrawn bid. No payment is owed if the subsequent winning bid is more than the withdrawn bid.

In these related appeals, the FCC says the five groups still owe a total of more than $2 million.

The groups had asked for a waiver and eventually for the decision to be reversed, noting that station values dropped from when the bids were placed to the actual auction.

License values fluctuating is a risk all bidders face, the FCC said in its decision.

In turning down their appeals, the commission upholds the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau decision, saying “by forcing each bidder to consider carefully the costs that may be incurred by withdrawing a bid, the rule deters ‘insincere bidding’ that may interfere with auction dynamics, “including distorting price information.” The groups did not meet the hurdle of establishing the need for a waiver or for the decision to be reversed, noted the agency.